18 Innovations: Coronary Angiography

F. Mason Sones Jr., MD, performed the world’s first selective coronary angiography at Cleveland Clinic in 1958

In 1958, cardiologist F. Mason Sones Jr., MD, made one of the great breakthroughs in visualization inside the arteries with the discovery of moving cine-coronary angiography.

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Dr. Sones made the discovery while he was doing a procedure that involved injecting contrast dye into the aortic valve of a young man. Unintentionally, the catheter tip injected the dye into the wrong side of the man’s heart and directly into his arteries. Dr. Sones feared the man could die, and he was ready to massage his heart to get it started. Instead, Dr. Sones immediately told his patient to cough, and when he did, his heart began to beat again.

This successful – and inadvertent—new procedure revealed the interior of the coronary arteries, confirmed the natural history of coronary heart disease and set the stage for the first documented coronary artery bypass surgery, performed by René Favaloro, MD, at Cleveland Clinic in 1967.

The nurse present during the discovery, Vae Lucile Van Derwyst, RN, went on to become the world’s first cardiac catheterization nurse. She was in charge of a 40-nurse staff that traveled worldwide to speak about the subject.

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F. Mason Sones Jr., MD

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